(52) I believe in the Holy Ghost

Although Christ had ascended, something of him was still upon the earth: His words and the impact of his life were still affecting the lives of his followers. The Holy Spirit could pour through the heavenly Jesus into every life where Jesus’ word had lodged. The ascended Jesus had become, as it were, the big end of a funnel whereby the Holy Spirit could enter the human race in depth, wherever Jesus’ word came and was received. Jesus was like a transformer, stepping down the powers of the Creator Spirit so that he might come to dwell in men and bless them rather than burn them. On the day of Pentecost, therefore, the church came alive as a powerful, contagious, permanent community of holy love. The first Christians identified the source of their new life as the Spirit of Christ himself. They felt that their former Master, now their Lord, was again present with them, even in them, as the Holy Spirit. Some Christians refer to the “Holy Spirit” after Pentecost as the “Holy Ghost.” This is because the word “ghost” is a far more human and personal word than the vaguer word “spirit,” which somehow includes nonpersonal activity and force. A “ghost,” whatever else it may mean, at least refers to the presence of some person who is bodily absent. Sensitive people understand presence. When Christians spoke Christ’s word, there was a big stir among their hearers, just as when Jesus had been with them. The power of his Holy Ghost accompanied the least word-fragment of Jesus’ life. Wonderful things happened in human lives as Christ’s eternal life came into them. Looking ahead, Christians could see that a new, Christlike humanity could now arise, fulfilling the eternal purpose of the Christlike God who said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”

The Holy Ghost makes the past of Christ present to me. If it were not for the Holy Ghost, Jesus’ coming to the world would mean no more to me now than the life of any other great man. Anything he might have been or done in the distant past could not affect me. But through the Holy Ghost, my living contemporary, what Jesus was and obtained for me can come right through to me today, a direct connection. I can have at least a good taste of eternal life right now. Christ and all his benefits are really present to believers today. We are so united to Jesus by his Holy Ghost that we share in his baptism; we can live again something of his life of loving service; we can participate in his victory over temptation. While it is true that we shall share in something of Jesus’ sufferings, we also share in his death-proof life. Jesus has already died for us those deeper passages of death which lie beyond the moment of our earthly death. We are being raised in his resurrection, ascending in his ascension. We have as yet only a foretaste of these realities, but someday we shall come into the fullness of what is actually ours. Until then, the Holy Ghost will provide for us a continuous supply of resources for living, right from our Lord’s overflowing spring.